Culture Family Life

A love letter to libraries

I know that I am not alone when I say that we, as humans, find a lot of solace in libraries. They are temples of knowledge, housing collections of stories and dreams alike on their shelves. Libraries are as much a part of our culture as anything else. People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries. In a way, they hold the key to all of our stories,

I love libraries, and I am terrified to see their eventual demise, especially as our world becomes almost entirely digital. They are gems from the past that have maintained vitality no matter the circumstances or happening outside of their walls. Not to mention they are the cornerstones of entire communities, maybe even countries, granting light and stability to people when nothing, or no one, else seemed able to. They offer more than just books; they offer entry into a space that seems more like a sanctuary run by people grounded in compassion, commitment, creativity, and resilience.

People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries.

I used to go to the library near my grandparents’ house every other Friday. For the most part, my mom took my brothers and me there to get a new book for school or to see what DVDs we could bring home to watch that evening. But I remember roaming around, starstruck, in between the tall shelves, wondering about the people who wrote each and every single one of those books and how long it might have taken to get them all here.

Most weeks, my mother let me get two books instead of one. I could spend hours there if it was permitted. I always liked watching my mom pick her books for the week, too. She seemed so sophisticated and gentle while scanning the shelves, yet she never knew exactly what she was looking for. If it was winter, afterward we would all pile back into the car with our hardcover books and grab a slice of pizza. If it was summer, we would walk to the Italian Ice shop down the street for some cream ice – those were the best days. 

I fear that libraries have been taken for granted, even in my own life, and am always spellbound to find them chock full of unexpected people, doing unexpected things, with unexpected passions. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling, the pure excitement in my stomach, that erupts every time I am searching in a library for the perfect tale to dig into. A trip to the library seems, to me, to be enchanted. I become whimsical, enveloped by the completeness and simplicity of the entire journey.

Even the smell of a library is impossible to replicate because of its specificity and poignance. I am reminded of sandalwood, dusk, and a particular, antiquated, dampness. Its familiarity is beyond comforting. The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination. 

I feel at home while pattering around and tracing my fingers between the shelves of books. I fall in love while blowing the dust off of the covers, revealing bright colors and exquisite lines. I spend hours crinkling through the aged, already yellowing, pages of novels wondering which I will pick this time. It is never an easy decision, and I always leave with dozens underneath my arms wondering if the others will still be there when I return the next week. But, that’s the beauty of libraries, isn’t it? Every visit is entirely different from the last and there is no telling what you might stumble upon. Yet each visit is also starkly familiar. 

The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination.

Books have changed so much of my life, with plotlines, characters, and lessons that have been woven into nearly everything I do – that is every decision, every consideration, and everything that I have grown to appreciate or even pay a little bit more attention to. Books are there to remind me of what’s important, and when I’m not so sure, they’re there for me to lean on. Without libraries, though, I might have never been allowed membership into such a world of splendor. 

Tech Now + Beyond

Becoming a best-selling author isn’t just a dream for me anymore – it’s about to become reality

As an aspiring writer, getting a book published is the dream. A few years ago, the concept seemed pretty much impossible to me – a chance in a million. But with the rise of self-publishing, the industry is changing and it is so much easier to get your work published.

Where previously you would have had the difficult task of finding an agent or a publisher, now all that is necessary is good content and the will to get your work out there.

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I decided to do my research and see which companies would be best to use when self-publishing and how much the process would require from me.

Being a Kindle obsessed-human, Amazon was the first place I looked into. With Kindle Direct Publishing, the process seems relatively easy – create the content, format the document, create an account, enter the relevant information and publish. Surely it can’t be that easy right?

With all Kindle titles priced between $2.99 to $9.99, Amazon pays out a royalty of 70%. They will also advertise your book for you so after creating and publishing the book, not a lot needs to be done. A huge plus is that you don’t pay anything to Amazon for using this service, however, this does not necessarily mean that you won’t be spending any money.

In order to publish the best version of your work, you may want to hire an illustrator, get the piece edited or get help with formatting.

There are drawbacks, obviously, the books will not be in bookstores as Amazon itself is technically an online bookstore. But unless you sign up to KDP Select, there is still the option of publishing in paperback elsewhere.

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Xlibris goes a step further.

You just have to write the actual content, it will then design the interior and the cover, get your books listed and print them on demand. You can pick from a range of packages depending on which services you’d want. They also offer additional services of editing, marketing, formatting, and design.

The pros of this are that you can also have your book in paperback and hardback. You get a lot more help in every department in order to ensure that you come out with a more polished version. However, unlike Amazon, this is not a free service. The fees vary from what type of package and add on services you wish to have.

Another useful self-publishing website is Author House, which also offers a range of packages from e-books to full-color paperbacks. Furthermore, they offer a range of additional services from editorial, marketing, production, and bookselling.

Another helpful website is Writers and Artists, and this is a great resource, especially if you don’t know where to begin and what kind of publishing service you require.  You answer questions based on your manuscript and about the tools that you require such as editing, design etc. This website then lists all the companies that offer the services that you require and also compares them.

You can then request a personalized quote to gain an idea of how much each service will cost. This website also has articles and resources to help you on your journey.

These are just a few websites but there are so many services out there to help you create your own book. Personally, I think the self-publishing industry is incredible, having work published has become more attainable. My favorite aspect of this, however, is how simple the process has been made. I’m not technologically inclined so the fact that some of these websites help you format the manuscript is a game-changer for me.

Becoming a writer is no longer a childish dream of mine. I’m not J.K Rowling, but there is a chance that I can get someone somewhere to read some of my work.

That, for me, is enough.